Sandwich With a Side of Romance by Krista Phillips
Paperback, 320 pages*Published September 1st 2012 by Abingdon Press
Sandwich represents hope for twenty-year-old Maddie Buckner and Kyle, the eleven-year-old brother Maddie wants to spring out of foster care. Then she loses her new job after less than a day on the clock. It’s all Reuben-the-Jerk’s fault, and she’s determined to make him right the wrong.
He does so, reluctantly, by giving her a job at his restaurant, The Sandwich Shop. Then crazy things start happening at the restaurant, and Kyle’s foster parents apply to adopt him. To stop it all, Maddie must learn the art of humbling herself and accepting the help God has arranged, risking her heart to Reuben in the process.
And she’d rather eat a million corned-beef on rye sandwiches than do that.
God, is it against the rules to want to strangle one’s boss?
Even though she was still very new to the whole Christian thing, six months yesterday to be exact, Maddie Buckner was fairly sure that thoughts of murder, even in jest, wouldn’t be condoned by the Almighty.
Maddie bit the side of her cheek to keep from saying something not-quite-Christian as she swept the broom across the salon floor for the fifteen-billionth time. She hadn’t driven an hour from Chicago with nothing but her clothes and a few hundred bucks to end up as a janitor.
But it seemed on her first day at the Sandwich Cut N’ Style, that was all her new boss would let her do considering it was already afternoon and she’d yet to cut a single strand of hair. She was supposed to be given walk-ins, but her boss refused her the few they’d even had, saying they were too “important” to risk on a newbie.
“You still missed some, Madison.” Karen, her Nazi-of-a-boss, crossed thick arms over her ample chest and nodded toward two short brown specks in the corner. “And when you’re done, the waiting area needs straightening up. I’m running to Art’s, and I expect it done by the time I get back. Got it?”
The front of the salon was indeed a mess due to the five-year-old terror who’d just left. He’d thrown every magazine out of the rack and banged on each toy from the basket while his mother got a perm. Oh, the joys. And since Art’s Supermarket was directly across the street, she’d have to book it to get done before Her Majesty returned.
Maddie swept up the two errant hairs then headed for the front. While she stuffed a Good Housekeeping magazine back into the rack, the bell over the door jingled and a fine-specimen of a man walked in.
Hello, Mr. Gorgeous. Shaggy-blond hair, tan arms, a slight stubble on his chin. The old Maddie would have thrown herself at him to get a date. The new Maddie wanted to run away.
The guy leaned against the oak reception desk and ran a hand through his shoulder-length hair, then looked at his watch. “Cyndi gonna be much longer?”
Miss Agnes, their gray-haired receptionist-slash-manicurist, nodded. “Sorry, Reuben. Cyndi’s four o’clock is taking longer than she expected. It’ll be another ten minutes or so. You okay to wait?”
The man eyed his watch again. “I need to get back before the dinner rush. Is there anyone else who can do it?”
“Only Karen, and she stepped out for a few minutes. If you really don’t want to wait, we’ve got a new stylist who just started today.”
Hunky-guy glanced at Maddie with a frown. “She looks a little young. Is she any good?”
Did the guy think she was deaf? Plus, Mr. GQ didn’t look to be much over twenty-five himself.
Miss Agnes tisked. “Now Reuben, be nice. Maddie came highly recommended.”
Only the prospect of her first client and a subsequent tip persuaded her to ignore the man’s rudeness. Plastering on her best fake customer service smile, Maddie straightened up from where she’d been putting blocks back in the bin. “My name’s Maddie. I’d be happy to do your cut if you’d like.”
Cyndi waved from the sink where she was removing perm rods from Mrs. Emerson’s hair. “Maddie’ll do a great job, Reuben.”
Reuben crossed his arms, looked at Maddie for a moment, then nodded. “That’s fine.”
As she showed him back to her station, nerves did the hula in her stomach. Her first real, paying haircut. She’d been a natural at school and had cut her little brother’s hair for years. But having her livelihood depend on it was an entirely new experience.
Jesus, please don’t let me mess this up!
Grabbing a cape and towel from the rack, she forced another sugar-sweet smile and twirled the chair around. “Have a seat.”
He nodded and sat down. She spun the chair toward the mirror and tucked the small towel around his neck line. “So what did you have in mind? Just a trim?”
“No, I want a perm.” He rolled his eyes. “Of course a trim. Same style. No need for a shampoo.”
Maddie bit the side of her cheek to keep from retorting with a rude comment of her own. “Not a problem, sir. I’m guessing to take off maybe a half an inch?”
He shifted in his seat, his brow creased in a worried line. “Listen, if you have to guess, then maybe I need to just wait for Cyndi. I don’t really care to be a practice mannequin today.”
Maddie turned around and grabbed her comb so he wouldn’t see the darts she hurled at him with her eyes. Her first customer had to be not only a male, but a demanding pig of one too. But still, she needed a good tip. “No sir, I was just making sure that was what you wanted.”
When he didn’t reply, she turned and saw him sitting, eyes closed, his fingers rubbing his temples. Maybe Reuben-the-jerk had a headache. She should not be gleeful at the thought. Lord, forgive me.
She walked behind him and ran her fingers through his hair as she assessed his current style. An ultra modern, long shaggy cut parted an inch to the right and layered to chin length with a chic “messy” look to it. The back curled out, giving evidence of a little natural wave. It was an attractive haircut, especially for his boyish, square face, but seemed a bit longer than it should be. He was cute now, but when she was done with him, he’d be positively swoon-worthy.
Minus, of course, his snake-like personality. Nothing she could do about that.
“What are you doing?” The man stared at her in the mirror.
Maddie withdrew her fingers from his hair and bent down, pretending to look at the back of his head. “Trying to make sure I get the cut right. Should be good to go now.”
Note to Maddie: Don’t fall in love with a client’s hair and spend several minutes running your fingers through it. Awkward moment will surely follow.
Ignoring his brooding stare, she grabbed her scissors and began to work. The slivers of dusty blond hair floated to the ground as she snipped with a steady hand. She was doing it. Her first haircut at her first job. Her father’s words echoed in her brain. "You’ll never amount to anything, girl. Just like your mom.”
She was proving him wrong, along with every other man who thought she was nothing but an object to be manipulated and manhandled. If only they could see her now. But, then again, Maddie would be thrilled if she never laid eyes on any of them again. Especially her father.
As his hair began to take the proper shape, her confidence boosted. She was a success, and soon she’d have enough money to rent a little house and bring her brother home where he belonged.
While she trimmed the back, she glanced in the mirror. Was Reuben-the-jerk asleep? His head drooped, and his eyes were closed. At least he couldn’t act like a spoiled brat while he slept.
She moved to the right and began to trim the front. The layers in his bangs started at the base of his ear and ended below his chin. Maddie combed the first swatch of hair and positioned her scissors to make the cut, but Reuben’s head jerked further down then up as she began her cut, causing her hands to slip.
Maddie gasped. Dread curled itself around her stomach and squeezed. In her trembling hand she’d caught four full inches of his hair. On the side of Reuben’s forehead was a one-and-a-half-inch dusty-blond stub.
About the author:
KRISTA PHILLIPS is a debut author and owner of the popular blog, One Woman’s Dream. She lives with her husband and four daughters in Middle Tennessee.
Her latest book is the Christian fiction romance, Sandwich with a Side of Romance.
Maddie has just finished cosmetology school and has her license. All she wants to do is cut hair, make a living, and show that she is capable of her little brother Kyle's guardian so she can take him out of foster care. Her dreams of starting off on the right foot are dashed on her first day after her first hair cut turns disastrous. Reuben nods off during his trim, then jerks awake, what does he expect to happen but for Maddie to chop off a chunk of his blonde hair?
Sandwich With A Side Of Romance had laugh out loud moments, featured a realistic, flawed female character and a hard to handle man with Reuben. Their chemistry is apparent and they both learn lessons about not asking God for what they want and just letthing things be. Sweet, humorous, romantic, old fashioned charm with traditional values, this is a fun read for a chilly afternoon. Fill the tea kettle, let it steep, then sit back and enjoy a good read with a nice cup of tea.
Cover comment: This cover works for me
Book source: I received a copy from the author in return for my honest review during a blog tour.